Groups recommend less screening for breast, cervical cancer screenings

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has announced that it's recommending young women begin getting Pap smear tests at a later age than before, and less frequently than is currently standard.

The new ACOG guidelines say women between the ages of 21 and 30 should be screened once every two years, rather than annually. Previous guidelines, issued in 2003, had recommended women begin cervical screening three years after first having sexual intercourse, or by age 21.

This announcement follows closely in the wake of similar recommendations by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which kicked off a major controversy when it called for women to begin getting mammograms at age 50 rather than 40, and bi-annually rather than every year.

The ACOG denies charges by critics that the new guidelines are designed merely to save money. However, the group admits that more frequent screenings may waste money, and that this factor was included in the overall risk-benefit calculations it made in issuing the new recommendations.

To find out more about the recommendations:
- read this Wall Street Journal piece

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